Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pointless, Callous, Intelligent; Pick Two

Billy Mays, a guy famous for selling crap on teevee, died of heart failure. Apparently Megan things that her readers have never heard of any part of the internet other than her blog because that's the extent of her second post today.

Her first post is titled "Markets in Everything" which, as you all know, is what she said (about 50 times before). What's the market in today? Well, actually, it's likely to be a hoax, but our muse makes no mention of that. No, she merely blurts out "Spend your vacation hunting pirates." My reaction is the same when I hear about commercialized murder. I just comment on it passively. I'm all like "heh, they'll sell anything these days," before I go back to my shoe gazing.

Her commentors are a beautiful people, as always. Some of them defend selling the right to kill someone. After all these pirates have yet to kill anyone use "deadly force" and so it's perfectly cool to go pique a fight with them and then shoot them. That's just enlightened self interest. Yeah, I wouldn't look askance at someone who actively sought out a justifiable homicide as a "vacation," either, Mr. Libertarian. You have such an enlightened view point.

Furthermore, our evaluation of their situation -- I'm informed by the commenidiotariot -- should not involve any analysis of the Somalis' horrible conditions or what atrocities and/or injustices have driven them to piracy. They used "force" and so therefore are "bad." Western civilization, the only true light on this earth, never uses force and engages in only fair, even sided negotiations in order to acquire the supplies for its larder. Anyone who does not return the favor should be hunted down with tanks, destroyers, airplanes, embargoes, sanctions, invasions, locusts, global worming, toxic waste, cruise missles and reality television. End of fucking story.

You Can Find Them in the K-Mart Parking Lot

I just thought of a great solution to the illegal immigration problem. First, you round up a shit load of illegals looking for work. Then, you take them back to the border and pay them $2.50/hour to keep more Mexicans from coming across.

Win-win. You could give them sombreros, six-shooters, ammo belts and those poncho thingies for added effect. It'd be awesome.

brad adds:

You haven't noticed who's been building the border wall, I guess.

NutellaonToast retorts:
You can climb a wall, but you can't climb a Mexican making a sub-living wage betraying his people! Mwa-ha!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Short Answers To Stupid Questions

Megan asks;

Next tragedy: Michael Jackson. Oxycontin. Discussion question for libertarians: assume we all agree that drugs should be legal. Is a doctor who enables an addicted patient to take fatal doses a good doctor, or should he be liable for malpractice? Discussion question for non-libertarians: how, pray tell, is this an argument in support of our current draconian drug laws?
It isn't.

Slightly longer answer to stupid question:

MJ was, like Nixon's pal Elvis, abusing legal drugs. What the fuck does this have to do with pot or cocaine?

The stupid, it burns. I want to respond more but it's only downhill from here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pogs and Beanie Babies are not Good Investments

Shorter Derek Lowe Megan McArdle:
If you're going to sell someone useless shit, make sure it's harmless useless shit. God, me and my friends are so much smarter than everyone else.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nobody's Wrong. Everybody's Wrong. The Liberals Are Wrong.

Ohhhhhhh, goody goody. Poor black people aren't getting off scot-free today! No sir, we've got some Community Reinvestment Act attacking going on today. Now to be sure, our muse realizes that much of the criticism of the CRA has come from over zealous market humpers and backhanded racists, but you just cause they're paranoid doesn't mean that their isn't a Zionist conspiracy to take over the world banking industry.

John Carney has been doing a lot of blogging about the role of the CRA in the financial meltdown. That role is overstated by conservatives who are unwilling to admit that markets can have bad outcomes, but it is understated by liberals who are unwilling to admit that regulation, too, can produce hideous unintended consequences.
Thanks for pointing this out. See, as a liberal, I thought that every idea that I've ever supported was infinitely good. I had no idea what neither the word "unintended" nor the word "consequences" meant! I hope she'll elaborate on this lesson for me. BTW, she does not ever actually say what CRA stands for. I remember when I still struggled to find new jokes to make about that kind of think.
The CRA did not singlehandedly cause the meltdown. But the relaxation of credit standards that allowed the meltdown did start, as far as I can tell, with the CRA.
Well, hold on a sec, are we sure about that? I think we can go back further. See, the CRA was passed in 1977ish. Now it might seem reasonable to say that lax lending practices happened then and somehow culminated 27 years later. Seems reasonable to expect that when a bill was passed to prevent banks from giving blanket mortgage denials to entire neighborhoods full of swarthy financially unviable people. However, I think the lax lending standards actually started with the advent of banking thousands of years ago. I mean, obviously, before there was banking, there were never any bad loans written. God damn you Ugulatata, for pointing man down this path! We should've just stopped with fire.
And perhaps more importantly, the CRA, and the mentality behind the CRA, made regulators extremely unwilling to intervene. Everyone wanted to make credit more widely available to the poor. Well, the poor aren't good lending risks. So if you want to give them access to credit, you need to relax your lending standards. Any attempt to tighten lending standards on the part of the government would have resulted in a massive contraction in the credit available to core Democratic constituencies. Meanwhile, the Republicans were hoping that turning poor people into homeowners would make them more Republican.
Hmmm, I didn't realize how pernicious those poor people were. See, if only we hadn't given them half a million dollars to buy houses during an asset bubble that we knew they couldn't afford but sold them anyway under the false certainty that we'd all be saved by ever increasing housing prices. Why the fuck did someone write that we should do exactly that in the CRA text? That was a definitely lack of foresight there. We should have known all those sprawling exurbs of urban blacks and migrant Latin workers were a bad idea.
Regardless of how much causal blame you assign it, the financial crisis has certainly proven that the CRA seems to have been a very, very bad idea. Yet Barney Frank is still trying to keep risky loans flowing in the hope that things will all somehow come right in the end if we just pretend, as hard as hard can be, that there isn't substantial risk attached to doing things like buying a condo in a building that is less than 50% occupied.
I totally agree. A whopping 20% of subprime loans were administered by banks under heavy CRA authority. Another 30% had loose ties to the CRA. God damn that "help the darky act." Hasn't Barney Frank learned that we just have to accept that indolence and violence are just part of the nature of Homo Africanus and we'll just have to leave them to their ghettos and rap music. Sometimes, you just have to keep walking.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Finally Seeing Some "Green Shoots"

I've been heartily skeptical of the recent reports of "green shoots" from the press. I'm convinced now. The astute of you can guess why. That's right, McMoron is not so sure that it's anything more than bull. She feels we may be in for a long, drawn out decline. I'm pretty sure that means tomorrow everyone will be rich.

Thank God, this recession was getting on my nerves.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


let's clear the deck so I can decide to either pretend Megan's latest magazine piece doesn't exist, or face it head on.

Rethinking the Kindle:

We were thinking of becoming a two-Kindle family. Now I'm rethinking the one I've got. I'm a total supporter of hard DRM. But if I have to wipe my Kindle, or upgrade to a new one, I don't want to find out I have to buy all my books again.
Hard DRM for thee, not me. Because it's an obvious libertarian principle that you shouldn't give people full ownership of the products they purchase.

Healthcare Economics: Standing Athwart History, Shouting "Stop!":

Here we have Megan at her paid propagandist worst. The assumption of eternal inflation means everyone will have technically more money in the future, so that 30% and growing bite that health care takes out of your budget will... something. Because Megan is a hack she forgot or didn't bother to produce an actual argument, knowing that simply saying us dumb proles can afford to pay 50% or more for health care will please the people she has to worry about. You want to get mad, as a reader, but there isn't even really enough there to be angered by.

Comment Sense: What if the Kindle Had Been Invented First?:

Yes, she's so lazy she's posting more comments. This one is all dude, what if we invented computers before paper, and also electricity, plastic, wireless communications, metallurgy, modern computer engineering....
Then, like wouldn't it be worth it to risk $400 if you drop what you're reading in a bathtub, as opposed to $20-30 for a hardcover edition?
Books, it should be remembered, require a source of electricity to function more than... what 4-6 hours probably?

Blast from the Past:

This is basically a no-post. Megan says nothing of any import, links to herself a few times, then uses another blog for filler. The only thing to mock is the near complete lack of content.

Might be back later tonight with a look at that article, might not.

Yes, There is a Dumbass in the House

I love how stupid Megan and her friends are. There's this kerfluffle going on about some Army hospital fucking up cancer treatment MAJORLY. It's pretty bad. Naturally, Megan uses this as proof that government health insurance is a bad idea:

Bruce McQuain says that the problems at Walter Reed prove that the VA isn't so hot. Ezra Klein snaps back :

Walter Reed is an army hospital, not a veteran's hospital. The two systems have nothing to do with one another. That's why the problems at Walter Reed led to the resignation of the Secretary of the Army and not the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Ezra wins on points. But here's the thing: Army hospitals have all the advantages that single-payer advocates love about the VA. They're unified. There's no profit incentive--indeed, the doctors are on quite low salaries. They have great incentives for preventive care. They certainly don't have any profit motive to provide bad care. So why did Walter Reed suck? And what guarantees that the VA is the system we'll follow, rather than the multiple other dysfunctional government systems everyone hates?
Why did Walter Reed suck? Well, in the context of arguing about nationalized health INSURANCE I'd say "Who gives a fuck about national health care PROVIDERS?" That is, people want government coverage, not fucking government doctors.

I may win on points, but here's the thing: I said the f-word so I'm wrong. How do two people that can miss points entirely obvious and crucial to/against their arguments be employed by Teh Atlantiz and The Washington Post.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sick Indeed

Alright, I don't have the full context of the quotes (nor am I going to look) mlle. pulled, but here's what Megan chooses as a "key point," from someone called Orac:

Steve Jobs' wealth and power let him jump the queue for organ transplants in a way that even I am uncomfortable with--and I am in favor of paying organ donors.
Who is this douchebag Orac? "Why, even I, doubtless a perpetual apologist for anything & everything that those more powerful than I do, am a bit taken aback by this. It's almost as if my betters would actually run over anyone who got in their way."


You know who's a lot better than McMoron?

The Talking Heads, that's who:
Update: The actual heads now.

Better than that?

Monday, June 22, 2009

I Think She Tried To Write This One For Us

*still giggling*

The Singular of Data is Anecdote:

If it's a recession when your neighbor loses his job, and a depression when you lose yours, the depression just ended for the McArdle-Suderman household. Peter has accepted a Koch fellowship* to work at Reason for the next eleven months, and today's his first day.

Oddly, the stock market does not seem to have gotten the message that the depression is over. So I thought this blog post might help.

* Yes, that Koch. No, I had no idea when I wrote about them that he would be applying for a fellowship. We both thought he'd have a job by now. But journalism seems second only to auto manufacturing in job losses during this recession; by our count, about 20% of our friends have lost jobs in the last six months.
and I'm still giggling too hard to even respond.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Free Association

I have been doing this for far too long. I've realized that McArdle's writing no longer represents poorly written and thought out articles, but actually has a voice in my head, associated with a personality. It always takes me a long time to develop a sense of someone's self when I only interact with them over the nets and when I do it's always as sort of a vague quasi-persona. I'm consciously aware of the fact that my impressions of my online companion's personality is just a caricature. Somehow, Megan has transcended that. Her voice has a full on presence in my head now. I realize this when I started reacting internally to her writings from the very first sentence, rather than having a chance to actually hear her arguments, much in the same way that someone who has come to take the slot of "annoying person" in your brain makes you antsy just by saying "Hey, how ya doing?"

Obviously, this makes me biased towards her musings. I don't really care. It's been clear for, what, a year and half (how long have I been doing this?) that nothing that comes out of her head and onto the screen is worth an old, dull green pixel of an Apple 2E. So, let's try some free association. That is, I haven't read the following piece, save the first sentence and headline, but I already KNOW it's going to be annoying. Let's see how right I am.

"I'm a big proponent of the transformative power of failure."

See, this is what I'm fucking talking about. This is the "hey, how are ya doing?" of Megan's idiotic voice. It's a perfectly reasonable thing to say, yet it I immediately wanted to smash my head into the wall when I read it. How the fuck can someone who does nothing but ignore her most persistent critics actually fucking claim to think of failure as "transformative." She thinks of failure as something completely beneath her. She ignores her current failures and blames her past failures on chance and circumstance. Her ideology has wreaked complete destruction on our economy and her brilliant leader has whistled away while the country burns, yet not a god damn thing in her god damn head has changed. The only transformation that failure hath wrought unto Megan is to make her look ridiculous. Seriously, wtf.

"Failure is nature's way of saying "Don't do that any more!", and is therefore a necessary part of achievement and innovation. And so I'm inclined to like this speech very much. "

And here comes the idiocy and mixed metaphors. How the fuck can failure be "nature's way" of doing anything? We're not talking about lightning, pain or gravity here you fucking twit! Failure isn't natural at all. It's a fucking social construct! That's like saying "theater is nature's way of putting on a show!"

Plus, who does she think actually needs to be told that there are valuable things to be learned from failure? Has she never heard the expression "if at first you don't succeed, try and try again?!?!?!" Or how about "those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it?" Fuck, I'm free associating here and I can think of trite ass shit that everyone knows representing what Megan's trying to be all original and wise about. I bet there are better expressions that I'm not recalling, but the nature of this task would be made untrue by Googling, so we press onward.

"On the other hand, something niggles me about the end:"

"Niggles," Megs? I'm not even.. what the... holy fucking shit! What kind of writing is that? You sound like a fucking idiot. OMG, stop. In the words of Joe Mathletes: Everything you create is cancer and madness. JESUS FUCK STOP IT!

So here is the point: you are going to meet the dragon of failure in your life. You may not get into the school you want, or you may get kicked out of the school you are in. You may get rejected by the girl of your dreams, or, God forbid, get into an accident beyond your control. But the point is, everything happens for a reason. At the time, it may not be clear. And certainly the pain and the shame are going to be overwhelming and devastating. But as sure as the sun comes up, there will come a time on the next day or next week or next year when you will grab that sword and tell him "Be gone, dragon."
This is what "niggles" that wretched big woman? Standard crap about things happening for a reason and persevering through adversity? What, does she think she owns the fucking copyright to bullshit platitudes and overwrought no-fucking-shit-isms.

"This seems like a pretty safe bet when you're talking to Buckley students, who have an ample safety net underneath them to allow them to bounce back from nearly any failure. But would he really say this to, say, a 55 year old man who'd just been fired from his sales job? Bad things--persistent bad things--happen to good people, and while it's comforting to think of them as merely a waystation, for lots of people that isn't really true. It only seems true to people who have been spectacular successes, because for them every failure actually just one more step towards the happy place they enjoy today. Sure, you can always rise over adversity. But a significant number of people will never again rise to the level they previously enjoyed."

OMFG. No, wait, acronyms do not do it justice. OH MY FUCKING GOD! WHAT THE FUCK! WHO THE FUCK DOES SHE THINK THAT SHE IS?!?!??!!?!?!? Can you believe that a woman who calls herself a libertarian wrote this? The woman who wants social security destroyed, medicare chopped in half and to take the very safety nets she tragically laments the absence of in her thought experiment and burn them to the fucking ground so she can sell the ashes to some millionaire who likes an authentic looking fireplace but doesn't want to get the room all smokey with an actual fire?

Can you believe that she thinks people actually need to be told that some tragedies cannot be overcome through will power? How the fuck did she ever convince anyone she has anything interesting to say?!? She's like the fucking See Spot Run primer for fucking philosophy. Tell me Megs, is the world a concrete reality or merely how we choose to interpret our perceptions? Is it OK to steal bread if you're starving or is stealing a universal wrong? Does the fact that I think prove that I fucking exist? Oh, please enlighten me on these subjects which are beyond the grasp of my feeble mind!

She just completely tosses away the context of the fucking speech. I don't know why she even bothers to acknowledge it in the first place. It's like "well, it's fine to say the sky is blue, but what if we're on the moon and the sky is black, huh?" This man is talking to NINTH FUCKING GRADERS! What the fuck should he say? Don't fucking bother kids, cause you might get hit by a truck? Of course he's going to tell them to persevere! They're not 55! They haven't lived their whole life hand to mouth without any marketable skills and now find themselves destitute and old without a shot at a comfortable retirement. They are fif-fucking-teen year olds! If they lose their sales job, they can, in fact, find another fucking job and start saving for retirement! They have time to go to college or trade school! Fuck, they are IN FUCKING SCHOOL! You're arguing that failure is good because you learn from it, and then pointing out that a man who fails late in life without ever having planned for it can't learn from failure? NO FUCKING DUH YOU DIPSHIT! He has already failed to grasp this lesson. It's not that it's not a good lesson to learn. Your example is exactly why this is a good fucking lesson to learn early in life!

And thus ends that. I think if I ever met Megan in person and she spouted this kind of crap at me, it would be all I could do to prevent myself from pushing her down the fucking stairs. Every sentence she writes screeches across my brain like a fucking flat line alarm. I think I wouldn't have the energy to push her down the stairs, as I'd be too busy clutching my head in agony and screaming at her to please, leave me alone and go bother some fucking 6 year olds with her bullshit ass meditations on dumbass philosophy. She hurts too much to exist. She hurts more than is physically possible. Oh, I wish she had the empathy to feel the hurt she produces in me, so that she might be her own penance for her own, horrible, horrible words.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm A Moocher, Looting The Work Of Others

As no one here got to this Mega-item (I've a vague memory of scanning it, noticing that my hair was starting to hurt, & moving along) why not enjoy it from the perspective of the sort of person who is an "adult," has written books on, if not the economy, then right-wing presentation of economic issues, & gets TNR to pay him to do this sort of thing?

So McArdle's comparison -- some countries have cut taxes and thereby raised revenues, some countries have controlled costs with universal coverage -- turns out to be true if you replace the first "some" with "zero" and the second "some" with "all." Other than that, great comparison!

There does seem to be a pattern here of McArdle trying to explain away the influence of supply-siders on the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Two years ago, in response to me, she huffed that Laffer Curve devotees amounted to no more than a tiny fringe within the GOP. ("This motley collection of names is hardly proof that the Supply Siders Have Taken Over the Building.") Shortly after, in a hilarious bout of karma, McArdle had a book review spiked by a major conservative publication because, in the course of her otherwise orthodox argument, she noted that the Laffer Curve does not depict present-day tax rates in the U.S. (I would say better evidence of McArdle being wrong was the fact that the last Republican president and every GOP primary candidate in the 2008 election asserted that tax cuts could revenues to grow.)

So then, in the course of issuing a mea culpa, McArdle asserted that the same dynamic exists on the left with regard to unwillingness to criticize teachers unions. It was quickly pointed out that criticizing teachers unions is not only common but practically de rigeur among liberal columnists, magazines, think tanks, and even elected officials. So now, in her quest to show that it's not just conservatives, everybody does it, she's reaching for an even more preposterous comparison.

--Jonathan Chait
We'll scout about; perhaps Ms. McA. responded. Well, no. Not only no response, but the very next day runs an item about that ol' Laffer & his curve that makes no mention of Mr. Chait's rebuttal or takedown or vicious blog slam or whatever.

Old Fashioned Semi-Shorters

like Momma used to make.

The Cost of Taxation:

Higher tax rates induce people to earn less money, period, and this is unquestionably a bad thing. Sure, reality doesn't agree with the premise, but if you look at recent economic history you see absolutely no reason to believe society would be well served by the "masters of the universe" having slightly less incentive to strip down American society for scrap metal and parts or create artificial bubbles based on dishonestly selling unpayable debt to people who don't understand what they're agreeing to. It wouldn't be a net plus for the world if the people Megan is paid to excuse the misdeeds of went Galt, not at all. Think of the poor suit makers.

Is Comprehensive Health Care Reform Dead?:

Here we see Megan playing concern troll, basically. She's passive aggressively trying to bait liberal blogs into paying attention to her by making unsubstantiated, and unsupportable, claims about the emotional tenor of their current postings by agreeing with us that Obama isn't actually a socialist or radical, but rather a devoted centrist with a slight leftist bent. And that he's not FDR, which, as Susan reminds us, is a metapunditrical self-reference to the last time Megan engaged in unsourced liberal mind reading.

Who Will Regulate the Regulators?

Lost in all this debate about how to fix the regulatory structure which I cheered for the dismantling of over the last decade plus is the fact that the inherently dishonest and greedy nature of all too many of the people in the financial industry ensures that there will be periodic crashes and crises. I mean, the market is perfect except that it fucks up regularly and causes huge problems for humanity.
I mean... ummmm, the market is like weather, and if we try to plan ahead for hurricanes we make the gods angry.

Dubya on Defense:

I don't really have it in me to pretend I don't think of George W. Bush as a good Daddy who kept me safe after fucking up and letting me nearly die.

Did I Malign Paul Krugman Yesterday?:

Many of my commenters think so. [And Arnold Kling, who supplied the quote.] I don't.
After all, if you ignore that Krugman was not endorsing the creation of a housing bubble but accurately describing what the Fed would attempt to do in response to the collapse of the NASDAQ bubble, and that the very term "bubble" has strongly negative connotations, then there's this other stupid shit you can say about it. Plus, maybe, if she's lucky, Krugman will mention and link to her this time, despite the fact he's clearly done with her from here on out.

I'm not sure if Megan has returned to her Althousian trajectory while I was away or if I'd just developed overexposure induced blindness to it, but these cries for attention are just sad. How can she maintain any culture warrior cred if no name brand liberals will get outraged at her?

(Yes, yes, Ann Althouse is not a person who I am. You're a boring old lady, Ann.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's Good Joshua Green Is At The Atlantic

otherwise Megan might get away with ignoring that even Arnold Kling thinks she was being "overly 'gotcha'".*
Being Megan McArdle means never having to say you're sorry, she has her junior pundit badge. You just lie about what you said, and pretend it isn't there, on the internet, for everyone to see. I mean, am I still talking about that? It's soooooooooo yesterday. So she was completely wrong and even her source/hero says so? What does that have to do with anything?

*- I know there is some debate about where to place punctuation in a quotation, and that I actually do what Megan does, perhaps paining some. I'm not trying to be British, that's what I was taught in my corner of academia, and I prefer it that way. It's a much more elegant way to include long quoted clauses in your own sentences, imo. I rarely blockquote in my academic writing.

Dear Joshua Green,

start in your own fucking house.

pundits are a plague on us all. It is time we acted.
The crowning indignity, of course, is that they're usually wrong. Not just off-by-a-few-degrees wrong, but invading-Iraq-is-a-good-idea wrong. "Dow 36,000" wrong. And what are the consequences? There are none at all! You can blow the biggest questions of the day, time after time, and still claim to be a discerning seer.
And you can continue to be Joshua Green's colleague and not be called out by him by name in a piece that is, for all intents and purposes, about you.

Jesus fucking Himmler on a mountain bike, wow.

Wow Indeed

In all of its glory:

Wow. Just . . . wow.

The basic point is that the recession of 2001 wasn't a typical postwar slump, brought on when an inflation-fighting Fed raises interest rates and easily ended by a snapback in housing and consumer spending when the Fed brings rates back down again. This was a prewar-style recession, a morning after brought on by irrational exuberance. To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.

As Arnold Kling says, there's a paragraph I'm sure glad I didn't write.
Title of her post "Paul Krugman's Prophetic Prescience." The quoted paragraph is from a 2002 Krugman article.

By the way, murder happens in America. I say that because, obviously, I totally endorse murder like all the fucking time.

If only Kruggles had found that recession around here somewhere.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Never Stopped You Before, So Why Now, All of A Sudden?

From yesterday:

I haven't commented on it because other than the obvious--elections should result in the election of the person who got the most votes--I don't have anything to add. I know nothing about Iran, and I don't blog much about foreign policy because I don't know much about foreign policy.
Emphasis, obviously, mine. As Ms. McA. wasn't a nationally-known typist when democracy in America was finally smothered w/ a pillow in 2000/2001, we don't have a record of her reaction to that ugly mess, but it would be irresponsible not to speculate, wouldn't it?

But what about this? Can there possibly be anything more important than turning a profit by downsizing & out-sourcing? No, except maybe here, in this one case, where, well, maybe ...
The print media is hamstrung by the fact that they've slashed their foreign bureaus to the bone--and then amputated the bone. There are too few journalists in too few places to cover a big story like this.
Do you think so? Really? Tell you what, lie down w/ a cold compress on your forehead for a while, & then come back once your priorities are straight. Profit, then anything else. Not that anything else matters, really, compared to profit.

Tee Vee Eye

This, though published 12 June, was in The NYT's "e-mailed to me Opinion Section" this (I was conscious by 1100ish) a. m. Like everyone else around here, my patience w/ virtually everything of late is as short as something very, very short, & my patience w/ Our Muse is not detectable w/ an electron microscope. But when somerthing is shoved in one's face, well ...

What little I watched seemed as dense as expected from Mlle. I think we all know that, in the mind of McArdle, the most important aspect of any health care reform is that non-working parasites (investors) must not be kept from making a profit on the pain & suffering of others. And there's something to that effect here.

If you can watch the whole thing, you're a better (or at least stronger-stomached) person than I am. Which isn't saying much.



Good friend and uber-talented journalist Conor Friedersdorf is going to be blogging for us for the next six weeks in conjunction with the Atlantic Ideas issue, and the Aspen Ideas Festival. The blog is, of course, utterly terrific, and if you don't check it out, you're missing a good thing.
We're behind enough as it is. Motherfucking fuckity fuckaroo.

Oh, yeah, and "journalist", Inigo Montoya joke about words... blah blah laugh your ass off internet.

Fuckin' bloody whore in a hand basket. Shithead in a scarf. Asshole in an air brace. Cock sucker in a comfy chair. I can't take this shit anymore. BLAHHHHHHHHH! THE INTERNET IS STOOOPID!

Not Affiliated

Fire David Letterman
but less likely to succeed than we are.
Also, we have the small amount of class needed to credit the late, great, Fire Joe Morgan for partial inspiration behind this place, whereas they suck. Then again, who knows how many of those conservative run firemedialiberalx websites were started by folk who stopped by here first. It's certainly clear I beat them all to the punch, and that most of them are run by the kind of people who enjoy the on-air stylings of Joe Morgan and Tim McCarver. Suspicious.
Of course, it is the work of John Ziegler, who you may remember for swearing incoherently at Nate Silver instead of honestly addressing flaws in his work, or, more likely, for being physically expelled from USC's campus while either not sober or improperly medicated, or, most amusingly, for being a total asshole on a tv date show.
It is unnecessary to begin a Fire John Ziegler website, just for the record, as he's more than capable of taking care of that himself.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why Are Other People as Stupid as Me?

Shorter Megan McArdle:
I don't understand why anyone would watch wedding shows unless they're retarded. I used to watch wedding shows all the time. Wait, I figured out who wants to watch these shows but I think they don't really exist. These mythical creatures are called "young women*" and notoriously low on purchasing power and free time. Also, I'm mentioning weddings and Peter in the same breath again because I'm not at all very subtle at all.

*Actually, she calls them the "pre-married" because apparently she's very bitter about her past self.

Bonus Shorter:
I have nothing to say which totally makes me smarter than everyone else.

Struggling to Free Herself From Her Own Restraints

First, you twist the rope around to form a loop:

Henry Farrell's interesting post on smoking bans reminds me of an ongoing question that I have never heard a libertarian answer satisfactorily. Smoking in bars and so forth is dangerous to bystanders who have pulmonary disease (the dangers of secondhand smoke to those who are not already breathing-impaired seem to be largely mythical). It's noxious to some other number of people who do not smoke. The libertarian rejoinder to the smoking bans is that bars could choose not to smoke if people wanted it. But in practice, despite the fact that smokers are a minority, and most people hate it, almost no establishment went non-smoking without government fiat.
Then, you put the loose end through the loop, and make another loop with the slack.
This seems like a market failure. You can explain it through preference asymmetry and the profitability of various customer classes: heavy drinkers are more likely to also be heavy smokers, and they are the most profitable customers. Bar owners don't want big groups of people who are going to take up three tables for an hour and a half while nursing one white wine spritzer apiece. They want people who are there to drink. In a competitive equilibrium, they couldn't afford to go non-smoking because they'd lose their most profitable customers to all the other bars.
Then you ask the unicorn in your head to put their thumb on the rope in between the loops as you put them through each other.
You can explain it, but this doesn't seem like a good market outcome by any measure. Let me be clear, I'm still against the smoking ban, even though I personally vastly prefer smoke-free environments; I think interfering with property rights like this has even heavier costs. But I also recognize that I'm in a minority. And I think that politically, if not intellectually, the success of smoking bans is a heavy blow to libertarian credibility.
Now you make sure everything is good and tight and VOILA! you're free. Now that your hands are bound you will no longer be tied down by reason. Blind ideology will light the way and show you that -- as long as you hate something irrationally and against any evidence for its beneveloance -- you can call it a travesty when you see something wildly popular creating a healthier environment for everyone while costing essentially zero dollars.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Silly Whitey

Megan has unkind words for W.A.R. which, as she doesn't bother to tell you, is the "White Aryan Resistance." Frankly, I'm all for resisting white Aryans even though I'm half of one myself, so I don't know what the problem is. Apparently one W.A.R. members got confused and shot some Jews at the holocaust museum. He must have thought it was a museum for the NAZIs in the holocaust and not the Jews. Innocent mistake, in my eyes, but whatevs. Anyway, in case you're wondering, my other half is Jewish which leads to a lot of gun fights between my right and left hands, but the white Aryan hand is Quaker and a pacifist so never remembers the bullets, but the Jewish side is my left hand so has really bad aim cause I'm right handed. A lot of innocent bystanders go down in that centuries old conflict, let me tell you.

Where was I? Oh, yes, Meggles.

A lot of people have picked up on the fact that white separatists are apparently worried that the shooting makes them look bad. This is hilarious in a laugh-until-you-cry sort of way, as is their strenuous efforts to ensure that we all realize he's nuts. Trust me, folks--we think you're all nuts.

But like Yglesias, what really struck me is that John de Nugent telling the Washington Post that "the responsible white separatist community condemns this."
Well, at least she gave an example for the white separatist thingy. I guess her and Fatty-Y had a falling out cause she's not link-lovin' him today. It's a shame, really, as noting the folly of violent racists is really funny and original and I wish people did it more often! See, like this:
What, one wonders, characterizes the responsible white separatists? Are their swastika armbands all made from 100% biodegradeable materials? Do they take care that the leather in their jackboots comes from humanely raised cows? Do they carefully follow the Forest Service's wildfire prevention guidelines when burning crosses? Are their white separatist brownie points for attending school board meetings or chairing the Community Chest drive?
Oh man, I'm laughing till I cry all right, only I'm skipping the laughing part. Oh, and, Meggles? Comedy comes in twos. Four examples? Man, she must REALLY think those crazy racists are crazy. I'll never question her racial sensitivity again.
But their concern does raise one interesting point: it's not actually possible for the white separatist movement to look any worse than it does. George Tiller's killing cast some genuine shame over the pro-life movement that nurtured his killer. But did yesterday's horror make you think any less of W.A.R.? You couldn't actually think any less of them, could you?
Ah, the world of Megan. An interesting point is to note that people don't just loathe white supremacists, they really loathe white supremacists.

Seriously, did you ever stop to think that if surgery accelerated global warming you likely wouldn't think less going through it? I mean, you can't hate getting surgery any more than you already do! That is so fucking interesting! Same goes for getting cow shit shoved in your face! Fuckin' a, man, so true. Lemme look at the back of a dollar bill, now.

Oh, and her other post today is entirely someone else's work. It's about how silly racists are. Phew, I'm glad Megan's run through her latest 8-ball finally. All those long posts in her own words were getting painful. Hahah, man, though, those white supremacists sure are silly. Hoo-boy, silly, silly, silly.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How Could They Possibly Sell for More Than I'm Willing to Pay?

Megan tells us "Why I Think the Housing Bubble Has Not Yet Bottomed" because there are a few retards out there who, incredibly, want Megan's opinion on things.

The reason housing prices haven't bottomed, she says, is because the people selling this condo are asking more than it sold for 4 years ago. Naturally, she's not looking at the multitude of graphs showing the national housing price is still well above historical norms. Nope, she's armed with an anecdote. For those too lazy to click, the listing is in the heart of a good neighborhood in the middle of DC.

Now, for someone so convinced housing prices haven't bottomed, it's a bit odd she's looking at house listings. That's, of course, not the stupidest thing she is doing, though. The stupidest thing is here is that she doesn't know anything about housing prices save that they're down. Anyone who is a modicum of informed would know that they're down in some areas but relatively unchanged in others. Those other areas typically being in the center of major metropolitan areas; you know, like downtown DC. To wit, commenter Jim:

Are you familiar with comparable sales? Looks like the going rate for a 900-1000 sqf 2 bed 1 bath condo within a couple blocks of this one range from 485-540K over the last 6 months (6 sales). Seems to me they are already at the low end of this range. Perhaps their realtor knows the market better than you do?
An expert knowing more than Megan? NEVER!

Oh, and thanks, Jim. As soon as I read it I knew she had to be wrong along these lines. I'm glad I didn't have to do the legwork myself to prove it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Don't Put Salt in Someone Else's Eyes

Shorter Megan:

Public Service Announcement for Graduating Students:Guys, I'm totally insightful because I gave journalism students selfish reasons to refrain from being total assholes. People were surprised by my super smarts1. Also, if I am vague about how I talked to them maybe it will sound like I gave a commencement address2.

1Or, perhaps, horrified that you'd use that argument, as if they would need to be told not to bash heads in so as to avoid blood spatter on their clothing

2Dear God, please don't tell me she actually gave a commencement address

My President Spends Irresponsibly Because He Loves Me so Much!

Austan Goolsbee recently complained on television that they're only embroiled in the auto mess because the Bush administration "kicked the can down the road". Keith Hennessy, who was in the Bush administration, says that's not quite how it happened: the administration proposed a more definitive resolution process, but the Obama transition team, which wanted more control over the process, declined.
I though Bush was a manly man? What did he care for what the sissy Obama thinks? I call shenanigans!

BTW, thanks for the links, Meggles. No links for you, either!
It seems to me that the Bush administration could hardly have resolved things any more quickly than they did; restructuring a company takes time.
Hrmmmm.... ok. I guess that's why Obama took a whole 5 months to start the process. He had a lot of free time.

If only someone could have noticed a year ago that GM was in trouble, maybe Bush II could have sprung into action! All of us were fucking SHOCKED that the car companies had to ask for money in December! NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED!!!
But perhaps my old professor was voicing my secret suspicion: that the Bush administration only gave the automakers loans because they wanted to leave the incoming Democrats with an ugly, expensive, mess on their hands. If Bush had had a few more years in office, he might simply have let the automakers fail.
Ohhhhhh! I see why you said something incredibly stupid, now! It's because the stupid thing you're about to say is going to look smart in comparison! It's also great how she suggests that a real expert agrees with her as long as you read between his lines! Now her argument totally carries the weight of a very important person, if you squint right.
But this way, he kept Michigan competitive(Michigan stayed competitive?!?!?! More like on a fucking lifeboat! -ed.), and forced the Democrats to spend huge, unpopular sums on a fairly naked bailout of a key labor constituent.
OMG! Is she saying that a Republican engaged in dirty politicking without regard for the good of the country? Thanks God she blew the whistle! By implication! Months later! While complaining about something else!

Of course, what really happened is that the auto-bailout was financed by the White House under Bush II who was NOT A FUCKING DEMOCRAT! Megan rolls stupid wheels within stupid wheels!
That would imply, of course, that like me, my former professor thinks GM should have been allowed to fail.
Similarly, my opposition to the Iraq war proves that I was right about universal health care! See, I was against killing people for no reason and it turned out to be a bad idea so naturally the solution was actually to send them to a doctor. QED, BITCHES!

Wait, what? I seriously don't know if anything here makes any sense. Megan is so stupid it blares at you like a neon light. Then you look at it closer and it's even stupider! Then you realize that there's another level of stupid beneath all that and before long it's twisted all around itself in some game of "Stupid Twister" and you have no idea whose stupid foot goes with whose stupid arm and you're like OMG WTF I NEED TO LAY DOWN! So, like, whatever, fuck it. I'm taking a nap.

Random Bit: I finally got around to looking up the actual "rules" for capitalizing titles. Turns out Megan was wrong in many ways, but not all of the ones I've previously noted. Whoops. I may think it looks bad to capitalize "are" but that don't make it wrong!

Random People Agree With Megan

so that makes her right, and obviates the need to provide sources for claims of "experts say" and the like. Just look;

Readers Respond on Medical Bankruptcy:

I am troubled that this study does not answer every possible question I, A SOCIAL SCIENTIST (of some unspecified and thus likely irrelevant sort), have in regards to it. Clearly, this invalidates the data and proves Megan right. I'd substantiate my claims, but I'm too busy stating them in the most verbose way possible.

Readers Respond on Medical Bankruptcy:

I'm a professor at a business school, so you really don't have to listen to a word I say. Besides, this whole thing relies on people honestly reporting their problems, which just makes it obvious they're lying to slander our poor, underfunded medical industry.

Readers Respond on Medical Bankruptcy:

Megan doesn't understand that I don't agree with her, so she's running my comment. She just sees that I mention my anecdotal, but relevant, experience with bankruptcies suggests the 50% number is an accurate baseline, although it actually probably understates it, considering how medical bills can lead to a chain reaction.

Readers Respond on Medical Bankruptcy:

I am close to/have met/read about/can totally imagine that there are people who say that adding medical bills to their credit card debt led them to bankruptcy, but they are liars who really went broke because they were getting cash advances to buy crack. My claimed anecdotal experience agrees with Megan's biases, and is thus data.

Readers Respond on Medical Bankruptcy:

She was too overwhelmed by the wave of support for her idiotic and demonstrably wrong opinion to remember to blockquote this one.
Its gist is that Warren's study melts under the unrelenting gaze of sarcasm and disdain from an admitted amateur. Maybe Megan did write it, after all.

Out of five random people, four agree with Megan. And at least two of the four are fellow experts in the field of expertise, so she wins! All you bankrupt people need to admit you're wrong, and stop blaming cancer or other serious medical conditions for your problems.

(This post has been edited slightly to compensate for having been written right out of bed.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Letter in Which I Explain Someting Rather Obvious

Dear Megan McArdle,

It has come to the attention of Fire Megan McArdle that you have recently written a piece about the bankruptcy of General Motors Corporation. Your intent was noble as even the most uneducated surely realizes how the financial situation of one of the country's largest employers affects us all. It was noble of you to attempt to glean from these proceedings those pieces of information that will be relevant to the common consumer and society at large.

However, I would like to take issue with one aspect of your post. You mention that the fate of GM's credit card "rewards points," which, while seemingly sealed from a cursory inspection, is, after a more probing look, actually somewhat ambiguous. While this may or may not be true, I would like to point out one sentiment that you fail to capture which Fire Megan McArdle feels is likely held by the public at large. That sentiment is: WHO THE FUCK CARES YOU IDIOT?!?!? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? MILLIONS OF PEOPLE MIGHT LOSE THEIR JOBS AND YOU THINK PEOPLE GIVE A FUCK ABOUT FUCKING REWARDS POINTS TOWARDS CARS THAT NO ONE WANTS TO FUCKING BUY?!?!?! BUY A FUCKING CLUE YOU WORTHLESS SACK OF SHIT! TRY, JUST FUCKING PLEASE TRY, TO BE RELEVANT! GOD YOU HURT! YOU HURT SO BAD! I HOPE YOU FEEL THE HURT YOU CREATE AS ACUTELY AS I DO BECAUSE YOU FUCKING DESERVE IT! GO FUCKING BANKRUPT YOURSELF YOU WORTHLESS SACK OF SHIT! DIE DIE DIE! OMG PLEASE DIE!

All other aspects of said blog post about the effects of the GM bankruptcy on the general public are valid points. In the interest of completeness, we wish to thank you for all of those insights as well as for those useful pieces of information which can be remembered from previous posts on your blog. We shall conclude this paragraph with a list of such points to balance the critical tone of the preceding paragraph:.

The Fire Megan McArdle Team

So, Yeah... Megan

to begin, there's no particular story behind my absence, I just didn't feel like paying any attention to Megan for a while. Cuz she's a fucking moron who has failed spectacularly to in any demonstrable way personally develop that refined inner self which religions inadequately refer to as a soul. Y'know, a movement conservative.
Plus sometimes the best way to irk a narcissist is to forget they exist.
Anyhow, I've been good, a bit lazy, but good. So let's do a 'traditional' semi-shorter, something light to ease back into things.

Why Warren's New Bankruptcy Study is So Bad:

...because Elizabeth Warren is not just ideologically opposed to Megan, she has facts and good reasoning to back it up. Further, as anyone who's ever seen her speak even for a few minutes in a documentary can tell you, Warren has the rare talent of being able to coherently explain complex issues relatively quickly without being simplistic or reductionist, which is part of why she's so successful and influential. In other words, Elizabeth Warren is, like Naomi Klein, the kind of person Megan has failed to become.
Also, Warren's study uses people being bankrupted by medical costs to show that medical costs are problematically high, the truth of which is totally negated by the fact that she's a poopyhead.
If we didn't have a useless executive class at the head of our medical 'industries' we wouldn't have 50,000 varieties of boner pills or mandatory nationwide prozac or hardcore anti-psychotics advertised on tv as anti-depressant supplements. But we would have significantly lower costs without their salaries and bonuses and corporate expenses, and more humanely directed research goals.
So Elizabeth Warren is a double poophead stinkosupreme.

Actually, this also works to summarize the post just prior, as well, tho in that earlier post Megan also manages to suggest maybe some of the people bankrupted by medical bills are just dumb or something.
Oh, and there's this;

My radar is further engaged by the fact that they're implying a really astonishing surge in medical-bill-driven bankruptcies, in a healthcare environment that just didn't change all that massively.
Nope, spiking unemployment and the credit markets drying up wouldn't have any impact there, like loss of insurance or inability to get a new credit card to park a debt on. Fucking brilliant, Megan.

And that's enough for a first dive back in. Weekend!


Holy fuck she's stupid. While trying to argue against a study that claims the percent of bankruptcies due to medical costs has gone up, Megan says this, (from the second post linked);
What's left out here? That in 2001, 1.45 million households filed for bankruptcy. In 2007, that number was 727,167. Had their paper done the basic arithmetic, readers would easily have seen that their own numbers imply a decrease in medical bankruptcies, from about 750,000 to slightly over 500,000. Yet their paper does not merely ignore this fact; it uses language that seems deliberately designed to conceal it. I invite any of my readers to scan the paper for any hint that medical bankruptcies had fallen significantly over 6 years.
She even acknowledges the existence of the 2005 law making it much harder for individuals to file bankruptcy, dropping the totals.
Wow. Girls aren't bad at math, but Megan is.

One more add-on:

After yet another commenter takes Megan to task for the obvious mistake I mentioned above, and her failure to in any effective way defend that mistake in the second post (or first linked to here), and she has a little back and forth with him, comes this (beginning with the end of the rational commenter's last response);
Instead of ranting about what terrible economists they all are, perhaps you could have made a well sourced argument as to why the more likely explanation for the increased proportion was the causes you mention? Just a thought.

Megan McArdle (Replying to: J.W. Hamner) June 5, 2009 11:34 AM

There are no sources. We don't know. I just got done writing a whole post on how we don't know why they fell. None of the experts I've talked to know why they fell. It's the central mystery of bankruptcy expertise, and Warren et al. just declare that they've solved it.
Now that's just plain old funny.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Is There a Dumbass in the House?

Megan picks the weirdest things to opine about. I'm not sure if she's trying to be edgy or if there is some secret personal reason for each of the topics she espouses on, but the only unifying thing I can find is that she's stupid on all of them.

Perhaps her recent foray into best medical practice is motivated by her multitude of chronic aliments. Whatever the cause, we can say for sure that Megan knows better.

She starts with a long excerpt of someone else's writing. The veterans will not need to be notified that it is quite a bit longer than her own musings, though no less well informed.

And so, NICE has decided, on the basis of "the evidence", that acupuncture and chiropractic are a good way to spend the NHS's money.
As Edzard Ernst points out, the Cochrane Institute (the other great temple of evidence-based medicine) actually found chiropractic to be more or less useless, while the evidence for acupuncture is that all of the ancient wisdom and theory of the meridians and qi doesn't actually confer any great benefit over and above that which can be gained from simply lying on a table and being poked with sticks.
I see. So one investigative body says that chiropractors and acupuncture work, and another does not. Naturally, since those two things aren't "modern medicine" this is proof that the skeptics are right. Also, the fact that both report that acupuncture works is central to his point. The real problem here is the acupuncture works even if you're doing it differently than is commonly done, proving that acupuncture doesn't work and is total bullshit.

The rest of the excerpt extols on how medicine is complex and so we can't know anything for sure. This is both insightful and proof that we know for sure that acupuncture and chiropractors are crocks.

Now we get to Megan.
This is part of a broader problem with medicine and other sciences with physics envy. Medicine, like economics, is really messy. You can't do the same kind of controlled experiments that you can do on rats or quarks, and as a result, the results are often hard to interpret.
Hmm, you can't do experiments in medicine? Wow, those MD-PhD's are gonna be pissed to find out they wasted a decade of their life pursuing the impossible. I Love the analogy to economics, too. We all know that studying individual ailments and studying the complex interactions of millions of people are roughly equivalent. That's why medicine and economics have both come out with so few concrete improvements for our day to day lives.
But this doesn't stop doctors, or policymakers, from acting as if the studies or metastudies can deliver vastly more certainty than is possible from such inherently sloppy science.
Which is why our muse calls herself an economist.
This is why, for example, I am broadly sympathetic to Paul Campos' claim that medical guidelines on obesity tell you much more about the attitudes towards fat in the upper middle class social stratum that doctors occupy, than about reliable scientific evidence on same.
Right, the fact that medicine cannot produce reliable evidence is proved by the fact that medical claims aren't backed by the available evidence. The available evidence which cannot be produced.
But policy demands certainty. And so you get obesity guidelines advising everyone to diet and excercise to shed their excess pounds, even though it's as close to a scientific certainty as anything is that most people simply regain any weight they manage to diet off. And you get absurdly precise economic forecasting, even though in many cases, the better answer would be "who knows?"
It's not that Megan is wrong all the time. It's that no one can ever possibly be right about anything. Oh, and the fact that fat people have a hard time losing weight is apparently proof that being overweight is not detrimental to your health. Also, since most people don't lose weight no one should try, ever. Or something. She has a point. She swears.
In both cases, I don't see a better alternative. But we should be more skeptical of both the institutions, and their claims.
Oh, that explains her constant cheer-leading for the implementation of the things she just attempted to disprove.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Round and Round

Today we learn again that "The Rich Really Are[sic] Different" (Ooooh, so close with the capitalization, there.)

A quick search of The Atlantic "Voices" section reveals we've learned this 38 times from the various voices in The Atlantic's head. At least five of those voices are Megan McArdle's, but I'll be fucked if I'm going to do a full count.

I still can't figure out whether she is so stupid she forgets how often she says the same thing over and over, or if she really thinks that using common phrases most writers abandon is clever. I mean, I just glancingly look at her life in disgust and I catch this shit. She's fucking living it! Well, now that I think about it, living the life of Megan McArdle must be horrible enough to make anyone distracted.

BONUS FUN:Two hits back on the search is McArdle's post on Heath Ledger. Ah, the halcyon days of when she was callous about a man's life and death in one fell swoop while being completely ignorant of his consequence. Oh, wait, those days are still here! Fun times!

PS Don't click those last three links. Seriously, don't.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dear Keith Olbermann

Andrew Sullivan is a noted proponent of the Bell Curve. He is, to be blunt, a racist who dresses his views up in academic terms.
Having him on your show is reprehensible. He does not deserve that platform. You're better than this.